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China Plays Tug-of-War With U.S. Inspectors Over Drywall

A team of federal investigators who traveled to China last year to search for answers about defective drywall faced resistance from Chinese government officials. At one point, a Chinese official snatched a drywall sample from an American’s hands.

Piles of plasterboards are seen at a construction materials market in Shanghai, China, Tuesday, 14 April 2009.

A federal investigation into contaminated Chinese-made drywall has been a long, hard tug-of-war for U.S. investigators trying to pry information from Chinese government officials and manufacturers. When a team of investigators traveled to China last year, the tug-of-war became physical, with a Chinese official trying to wrest a piece of drywall from an American’s hands.

The federal probe is the largest defective-product investigation ever conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. But almost two years after it began, the CPSC still hasn’t been able to figure out what materials in the Chinese drywall are triggering the release of sulfur gases. The gases have a chemical smell and have corroded wiring and appliances in thousands of U.S. homes. They’ve also been linked to respiratory ailments, nosebleeds and sinus problems.

The best chance for solving the mystery came last year, when a team of CPSC investigators traveled to China to inspect drywall-manufacturing plants and gypsum mines. But the trip did not go as planned, according to CPSC officials, including an inspector who was part of the group and who spoke with ProPublica and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Chinese government officials interfered with their investigation by rushing the Americans through inspection sites, blocking their attempts to ask questions and take samples and engaging in a coordinated campaign to intimidate them, the CPSC officials said. At one point, a crowd of employees was ordered to block the entrance to a gypsum mine and encircle the Americans.

“We were surrounded,” the inspector said. “There were five of us and 50 of them.”

The CPSC officials interviewed for this story, including the inspector, spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation.

Most of the manufacturing companies the Amer icans visited refused to disclose even the most basic information about the chemicals they put into their drywall or the manufacturing processes they use. Despite these limitations, the Americans noticed serious quality-control problems at all the plants and mines they visited. The inspectors were so desperate to get samples that they slipped away from their government handlers twice to buy drywall directly from vendors. The vendors said at least one brand of drywall being sold in China smells so bad that contractors refuse to buy it.

China’s failure to cooperate with the CPSC on drywall demonstrates how little recourse U.S. consumers have when they buy defective products imported from abroad, public interest advocates and international trade experts say. Nearly 20 percent of all U.S. imports come from China, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. Only Canada sells more goods to the United States.

“It shows that an agency like the CPSC has no leverage to get a foreign government to cooperate if that government doesn’t want to,” said Pamela Gilbert, who was the CPSC’s executive director in the Clinton administration and is now a partner at Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca. “I believe that’s true with all the regulatory agencies that have had trouble with Chinese products.”

Gilbert pointed to a range of defective products that China has exported in recent years, including pet food, toothpaste, pharmaceuticals and children’s toys.

The problem won’t be resolved, she said, until “the highest levels of the U.S. government, like the State Department, get involved.” \CPSC officials close to the drywall investigation told ProPublica and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that they’ve asked the State Department and the White House for help in dealing with the Chinese, but they wouldn’t provide details about the discussions.

This week, a CPSC delegation led by Chairwoman Inez Tenenbaum is in Beijing for trade talks with China. Tenenbaum is expected to discuss the drywall investigation, along with other product safety issues.

***

The CPSC officials who spoke with ProPublica and the Herald-Tribune about the 2009 trip to China said their government hosts were cordial when they arrived but that the relationship quickly became tense.

The Americans shared a bus with officials from China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, known as AQSIQ, which employs more than 30,000 people throughout the country. More officials followed in black sedans, with a new group switching in each time they passed into a new province.

“It was very carefully choreographed,” one of the U.S. officials said. “We spent a lot of time with party officials and not as much time in the plants as we wanted to do.”

The Americans had spent months preparing for their trip. They visited U.S. sites where gypsum, a white sedimentary rock used to make drywall, is mined. They studied how another form of gypsum—known as flue gas desulfurization gypsum or FGD gypsum—is produced from ash created by coal-fired power plants. They also visited drywall-manufacturing plants where they were told which chemicals went into the final product.

The CPSC officials said they couldn’t name the U.S. or Chinese sites.

The team’s first stop in China was a plant in the city of Linyi in Shandong province. Both Taishan Gypsum Co. and Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin, the two companies accused of manufacturing most of the defective drywall exported to the United States, have said the gypsum they used may have come from mines in Shandong province. Taishan’s manufacturing plant is also located in Shandong.

Although the plant managers were polite, they wouldn’t reveal the chemical additives they used or explain how they monitor the quality of their product. What the team saw wasn’t encouraging.

“Gauges weren’t labeled, the plant was very dirty and it was clear that there were very few process controls,” the CPSC inspector said. Without proper gauges, workers couldn’t monitor the quality of the material as it made its way down the line.

The team also didn’t see any documentation for the raw gypsum that was arriving from a nearby mine. In the United States, the CPSC official said, gypsum is labeled with a truck number, load number and other information that identifies its origin and consistency. “They didn’t have any of that,” the official said.

When the U.S. team started taking photographs inside the plant, their government handlers began getting nervous. When they asked for a sample of the finished product, they were offered a precut piece of drywall that had been laminated in plastic. Eventually the plant manager gave them what they wanted—a sample right off the assembly line—but a government official grabbed it from the CPSC inspector’s hands.

“Then we snatched it back. Eventually, we won the tug-of-war,” the CPSC inspector said.

The Chinese officials were infuriated.

“The handlers all began talking real loud on their cell phones. They were obviously upset and told our translator that they were angry that we took photos and samples at the plant. We were told that there would be no samples and no photos at the next stop.”

***

When they stepped off the bus at the next stop, a gypsum mine, about 50 employees blocked some of the mine entrances and began taking pictures of the Americans. “The clear aim was to intimidate us,” the CPSC inspector said.

The Americans had hoped to gather samples and learn how the miners avoided deposits of sulfur or other minerals that some scientists suspect may be causing the drywall problem. “But they refused to answer any of our questions,” the CPSC inspector added. “They wouldn’t let us grab a sample.”

The visit was supposed to last several hours, but it was over in less than 30 minutes.

CPSC officials said they phoned the U.S. Embassy in Beijing from the bus and reported that the Chinese officials were interfering with the investigation, but the CPSC wouldn’t tell ProPublica and the Herald-Tribune how the embassy responded.

As the bus approached a second mine in Shandong province, overpowering smells of sulfur and then livestock seeped inside. They were told the odor was from a nearby hog farm, but there was no farm in sight.

At the mouth of the mine the inspectors were shocked to see miners separating pieces of rock by hand—a process CPSC officials said is unheard-of in the United States and that the inspector described as “ludicrous.” Modern mines have tools and testing equipment on site to ensure that the rock they’re extracting is gypsum and that it is pure enough to be used in products such as drywall.

“They weren’t doing any kind of testing, they were just looking at it,” the CPSC inspector said. “They looked like they were straying” into areas of the formation that could contain sulfur or other contaminants “and then just trying to sort out the bad stuff by hand as it came out.”

Asked why the company wasn’t testing for contaminants, a company representative told the team the mine was fulfilling its contract with its customers and there was no government requirement to do so.

The team tried to get a sample of the rock.

“When I tried to go over and take a sample out of a huge pile of rocks, I was told it was too dangerous because of the machinery nearby,” the CPSC inspector said. “But there was no equipment anywhere near it.”

Instead, the inspectors were handed a piece of rock that looked “nothing like what was piled up on the ground.”

“It looked like a showpiece that you would put on your desk,” the inspector said.

The U.S. Geological Service later confirmed that the rock was gypsum, but there was no way of knowing if it came from the mine the Americans had visited.

The CPSC “suspected this mine as having problems,” the inspector said. “I was well-briefed before I left. We had a list of questions. None of them were answered.”

***

The second plant the group toured made its drywall from FGD gypsum. Using this form of gypsum in drywall is increasingly popular in the United States as well as in China because it’s cheap and plentiful. FGD gypsum is so similar in chemical composition to naturally mined gypsum that manufacturers say it’s difficult to tell whether drywall has been made from one source or the other.

Again, the Chinese officials tried to rush the Americans through the plant.

“They wanted us in and out of that plant in 10 minutes,” the CPSC inspector said. “But we just took our time, which made them really upset.”

The Americans weren’t allowed to take a sample of the drywall, but they got a sample of the FGD gypsum the company was using. But only one of their questions was answered: How did the plant keep track of where the coal ash came from?

The question was an important one because without proper documentation it’s impossible to track drywall made with tainted gypsum back to its source. In the United States, deliveries of mined gypsum or FGD gypsum come with a certificate that is supposed to specify critical details such as water and sulfur content, CPSC officials said.

The answer surprised the U.S. team. The FGD gypsum came from five different power plants, and when it arrived it was dumped together in a big pile.

“I asked if there is some kind of conformity certificate that says where all the material is coming from. They said no,” the CPSC official said.

Back to Beijing

The last plant on the CPSC trip used both FGD and naturally mined gypsum. It was located southeast of Beijing, in the city of Tianjin. Tianjin is home to a plant owned by German-based Knauf Group, whose Chinese subsidiary, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin, is one of the main players in the U.S. drywall crisis.

The managers at the Tianjin plant seemed more eager to cooperate with the U.S. team, and they shared the full list of chemicals used in their product. The facility was also more modern than the other plants they had visited. “If I were to build a plant, this one had a lot of what I’d like to have in it,” the CPSC inspector said.

But the inspector also found a problem. “Despite all of this good stuff, all of its raw materials were co-mingled and dumped,” he said. “So there was not much in the way of keeping track” of where the gypsum came from.

Dan Harris, an attorney with Seattle-based Harris & Moore, which represents clients in both the United States and China, said he wasn’t surprised about the lack of documentation in China’s drywall industry.

“There are a lot of industries where the Chinese don’t track goods terribly well,” Harris said. “Until there is a reason to keep better records, they aren’t going to do it. Perhaps this will be the reason.”

“Quite a Spectacle”

As their trip drew to a close, the CPSC delegation returned to Beijing for a final set of meetings with Chinese officials—and to make a last-ditch effort to collect more samples.

That night three of them slipped out and took a taxi to a Beijing street market, where they’d been told drywall was sold. They bought as many kinds of drywall as they could find, cutting small samples from each piece and cramming them into their backpacks.

“The vendors were kind of shocked,” the CPSC official said. “They couldn’t understand why we would buy the whole sheet and then cut a small piece out of it.”

The next day, on their way to meet with a Chinese government administrator, they spotted a large building-supply market. On their lunch break, they rushed back to the market and began asking the vendors questions they couldn’t get answered by the Chinese companies they visited. “We actually got more information from them than from anyone else,” the inspector said.

“It was quite a spectacle. People wondered, 'What all these Americans were doing here?'” one of the officials said. “We were there for about two hours, putting drywall samples into our backpacks and briefcases.”

The vendors told them the quality of the drywall they dealt with varied widely. They said some of it had a foul odor, and one vendor mentioned a specific brand that was known for its bad smell. The vendor was shocked when the Americans asked to buy some.

“He said he didn’t have any because his customers all complained about it,” said the CPSC inspector, who would not divulge the name of the brand.

The team sent the samples back to the United States through the U.S. Embassy in Bejing, because they worried that Chinese officials might seize them at the airport.

“We didn’t want to take a chance,” the inspector said.

***

China hasn’t provided any more information to the CPSC since the U.S. delegation returned home 14 months ago.

In May, the CPSC released test results of 10 Chinese drywall samples that released the highest levels of sulfur gas. It said that three of the 10 were manufactured in 2009, more than a year after Chinese-made drywall began causing corrosion and health problems for U.S. homeowners.

The agency is continuing to test the samples, but it still hasn’t determined what is causing the problem. The CPSC officials interviewed by ProPublica and the Herald-Tribune said that without more information from China about raw materials and production methods, they may never be able to answer the question.

When ProPublica and the Herald-Tribune told Florida Sen. Bill Nelson what happened to the CPSC in China, he said China’s treatment of the U.S. delegation was “inexcusable.” Florida has been especially hard hit by the drywall problem.

“The president should consider the strongest economic sanctions against China until they own up to their responsibility to American consumers,” Nelson said. The White House did not respond to questions for this story.

In April, Nelson wrote a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, urging her to push China “to act responsibly and help find a remedy” for the drywall issue. Nelson told Clinton he was particularly alarmed by the fact that he had “raised the issue of defective drywall directly with Premier Hu Jintao” in April 2010 and the premier said he knew nothing about the drywall problem.

In June, the State Department told Nelson that it had met with a Chinese product-safety minister and had urged that Chinese companies meet with the CPSC and discuss a “fair arrangement to benefit the Americans who have suffered.” The Chinese government said “the matter was under careful review.”

The State Department would not respond to specific questions about whether it has offered any additional help to CPSC. Instead it sent a statement saying it “believes that coming to a fair resolution of this trade-related problem is a matter of great importance to the United States, and should be of similar importance to China.”

But earlier this month, an attorney representing Taishan— which is owned in large part by the Chinese government—suggested that the company’s executives still aren’t convinced that their drywall is problematic.

“They absolutely do not understand why their high-quality drywall allegedly emitted excessive amounts of hydrogen sulfide,” Taishan’s attorney, Joe Cyr, told the New Orleans federal court that is hearing multidistrict litigation about the drywall problem.

Harris, the trade attorney, said China has little incentive to cooperate with the federal investigation.

“The Chinese government doesn’t care at all about homeowners in the U.S.,” Harris said. “Let’s face it. They care about protecting companies in China. If that means not sharing samples with the U.S., then that’s what they are going to do.”

It is beyond my understanding that the Federal Gvernment will not stand up to China concerning this drywall peoblem. We need some politicians with some backbone.

american drywall victim

Oct. 25, 2010, 5:37 p.m.

I know many families who have fallen victim to this disaster.  Some have Chinese drywall.  Some have American drywall.  All of us share one thing in common:  greed and status quo have stripped us of our lives, our finances, and our health and there is no end in sight.  To date we have no significant answers from the CPSC, CDC, EPA, federal or state agencies.  As of today it is looking more and more like the dust will settle with big business and the lawyers walking away with ALL our money.  We victims will be left bankrupt and without our homes or credit.  Our health may never be restored and no one in our government has stepped up to assist us in any manner that will restore our futures.
  The number of victims who will be affected is far more numerous than has been reported.  Factor in all the poor unsuspecting victims who have rented a home containing toxic drywall.  There are many reported cases of landlords renting and re-renting toxic properties even after they have been made aware.  Factor in all the thousands of cowardly home owners who put their properties up for sale without disclosing the toxic drywall.  Those homes will continue to destroy lives until someone steps up and does the right thing.  Factor in all the foreclosures.  Homeowners who walked away knowing their properties were toxic and the banks took them over only to put them up for sale, “as is” and buyer beware.  Those unlucky purchasers will have no recourse.  They will be stuck with another costly remediation the banks certainly didn’t want to be responsible for.  Of course, they could always return those properties to the vicious cycle of commerce… which I am coming to realise is exactly what most people are inclined to do.  I know I can speak for all my toxic drywall friends when I say that we have all become disheartened by humanity, government, and what was formerly a great nation of liberty, justice, and freedom for all.  We have now learned that the dollar is almighty.  It can buy justice for those who have done wrong against humanity and it can persuade and influence the very government which we put in place to protect us.  That does not feel like freedom to us.

Brenda Brincku

Oct. 25, 2010, 5:48 p.m.

On December 20, 2008 we read an article in the paper pertaining to Chinese Drywall, described all of the issues we were experiencing. We began our own investigation of our drywall and after reviewing pictures taken of the upstairs drywall before the installment, we determined at least in the upstairs we had no Chinese drywall.  All of the pictures indicate the only drywall used upstairs was from National Gypsum Goldbond (Gridmarx). Additionally, our subcontractor insisted he used only American drywall in our home.  At that point we were confused since we did not find any Chinese drywall in our home.

We began searching the internet for answers.  We contacted Thomas Eagar, Sc.D., P.E. of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  We explained our situation and our health concerns regarding our 8 year old son, Harrison.  He agreed to help us by testing samples of our drywall and other corroded items from our house.  On January 5, 2009 we submitted samples to Thomas Eagar and Dr. Harold R. Larson, both of MIT.  The samples consisted of drywall from National Gypsum Gridmarx & US Gypsum, corroded copper pennies, copper wiring & metal from our jewelry box.

From the drywall samples sent, MIT only tested the National Gypsum Gridmarx drywall sample taken from our air conditioning closet upstairs.  They indicated our electrical system must be inspected and replaced as the sulfurous gases causing the corrosion have accelerated the aging process of wiring by tenfold or more.  In other words, our four year old home has the wiring of a 40 year old home.  Based on the report we received, both Professor Thomas Eagar and Dr. Harold Larson believe our drywall to be defective.
National Gypsum and Packer Engineering visited our home on March 5th-11th, 2009 and opened every wall. They determined our home didn’t contain any Chinese Drywall. National Gypsum acknowledged there was a serious problem in our home, but denied any issues with the drywall. Our test from MIT and Rimkus Consulting Group, the testing company that our builder’s insurance company hired, both confirmed that our drywall is off gassing. Rimkus tested our well water & told us our water is normal. We also have other scientists that also agree that our drywall is off gassing. Over the past four years our family has experienced various health problems including nose bleeds, respiratory issues, irritated eyes, dizziness, shortness of breath, severe headaches and fainting.

In conclusion, this ordeal has completely consumed our lives and we are worried about health concerns from our tainted drywall. With that said we are deeply committed to finding the truth. Our drywall came from Apollo Beach, FL. that is next to Teco Energy. There are no standards in making drywall. How was the consumer to know that the drywall was not pure mined gypsum anymore? We are digging deeper into what actually went wrong with our drywall. Our concern is that the drywall industry is totally unregulated. When we buy drywall we don’t know if it was made from byproducts from coal scrubbers or has had some recycled Chinese drywall scrap added to the mix. We had this drywall installed in our homes with no information as its contents nor will the manufactures provide this information. Now that our homes are contaminated we need to know and we have had to file a lawsuit to find out if we have hazardous material in our homes. This is not right! Our attorneys Robert Gary and Greg Weiss are investigating almost a hundred homes with contamination problems from a single drywall plants that makes it’s drywall from flue gas desulfurization. None of these people and perhaps thousands more have any way to find out the source of the raw material in their drywall. If flyash is designated as a hazardous material we as homeowners would have the right to know what we are putting in our homes and what we are exposing our children too. This should be our right these are our homes and they are unlivable and we have to fight in court to get the most basic information if our drywall was made with hazardous materials. That is just plain wrong!  Regardless, attention and further detailed investigations need to occur in order to uncover the truth and restore not only our home, but those of the thousands of families that are being affected by this tragedy. I hope that my statement will serve as a catalyst to examine the health and safety issues that may involve American as well as the Chinese drywall. Please watch our two Youtube videos & our CBS News stories.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8y-wbII9b8&feature=related Brincku House

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWLbxR8O-sQ  A Cry for Help

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4895804n&tag=mncol;lst;1 Bad Drywall Rots New Home

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5752772n&tag=mncol;lst;1  Defective Drywall Dilemma
Facebook - American & Chinese Defective Drywall
Thank you for this opportunity to share my family’s story. 
George & Brenda Brincku

Chinese drywall

Oct. 25, 2010, 6:27 p.m.

Unbelievable that for the last 14 months the CPSC has implied to the Victims of Chinese drywall that China has been cooperating with their investigation!

Time to stop any drywall from coming into this country for China.

Speak out people and demand that our elected officials do this.

But if the gop get back into power they won’t listen. So let the people in the red states suffer the consequences.

I hope the dry walls really sink, they deserve to suffer for not paying attention.

another american drywall victim

Oct. 25, 2010, 7:01 p.m.

why would you expect the Chinese to come clean to help solve this problem when the American companies with corrosive drywall have not come forward and admitted they have a problem. The CPSC in their investigation have covered up the early testing done on American drywall which showed they also had some high contaminant levels. Comparing 2009 American drywall with 2005 Chinese drywall does not tell the whole story.  The people living with corrosive American drywall have only their lawyers to help them find justice.

Come-on,the Chinese importing sub-standard products to the United States and not co-operating with investigators? Keep buying cheap, imported products…......and you’ll keep getting what you payed for!!!!  Yes, American products are more expensive but in the long run you can’t beat quality.

Michael S. Foreman

Oct. 25, 2010, 9:31 p.m.

Finally the facts come out ...

1) China is not co-operating
2) Site visits were staged
3) Samples for testing not provided
4) Information concerning manufacturing processes and materials not provided
5) Visual confirmation controls of equipment not monitored
6) Quality Control does not exist
7) Glad Inspectors were not looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction
8) This sounds so similar to Inspections of Nuclear Plants, and other installations

Remember we are talking about “DRYWALL” not earth shattering “rocket science” technology

With this information and knowledge, every item imported from China is required to have “Certified Documents” concerning manufacturing standards, materials, etc. prior to being allowed to enter our Country through our Port Authority Inspection Process ...

We are talking about a piece of paper, issued by a Chinese Company, Manufacturer in China, or Chinese Government that “Certifies” specific information or manufacturing standards (ASTM) have been attained, followed, and past guidelines ...

Time for some questions on how do you validate and confirm this “Document” is legit and who actually performed the Inspection in China ???

Based on my opinion of what I have read and seen first hand, when I visited Chinese manufacturing facilities, less than ten (10) years ago ... and the problems we have experienced with pet food, toothpaste, milk, drywall, toys, and other items ...

Quality Control and Government Control are non-existent and a joke at best ... further explaining to cost difference between Chinese manufactured items and other Country’s ... including Canada, United States, and even Mexico ...

We can not blame our Port Authority personnel, who are directed to accept these “Documents” that look official, but more than likely were signed by someone knowing his life was on the line, if he did not ...

Remember all the executives and management people, that have been taken out back and shot as China’s way of dealing with these issues ... sometimes with a trial ... sometimes without a trial ... sometimes just to make an example ...

Think about these facts ...

Then buy anything but a “Made in China” product.

Michael S. Foreman
Foreman and Associates, Inc.
Forensic Construction Consultants
Sarasota, Florida

http://www.Foremanand Associates.com

George Brincku

Oct. 25, 2010, 9:50 p.m.

Chinese drywall is not the only one having problems. American drywall is also having problems too. If we can’t get American tainted drywall to pay then how are we going to get China to pay either?
This is our story:
On December 20, 2008 we read an article in the paper pertaining to Chinese Drywall, described all of the issues we were experiencing. We began our own investigation of our drywall and after reviewing pictures taken of the upstairs drywall before the installment, we determined at least in the upstairs we had no Chinese drywall.  All of the pictures indicate the only drywall used upstairs was from National Gypsum Goldbond (Gridmarx). Additionally, our subcontractor insisted he used only American drywall in our home.  At that point we were confused since we did not find any Chinese drywall in our home.

We began searching the internet for answers.  We contacted Thomas Eagar, Sc.D., P.E. of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  We explained our situation and our health concerns regarding our 8 year old son, Harrison.  He agreed to help us by testing samples of our drywall and other corroded items from our house.  On January 5, 2009 we submitted samples to Thomas Eagar and Dr. Harold R. Larson, both of MIT.  The samples consisted of drywall from National Gypsum Gridmarx & US Gypsum, corroded copper pennies, copper wiring & metal from our jewelry box.

From the drywall samples sent, MIT only tested the National Gypsum Gridmarx drywall sample taken from our air conditioning closet upstairs.  They indicated our electrical system must be inspected and replaced as the sulfurous gases causing the corrosion have accelerated the aging process of wiring by tenfold or more.  In other words, our four year old home has the wiring of a 40 year old home.  Based on the report we received, both Professor Thomas Eagar and Dr. Harold Larson believe our drywall to be defective.

National Gypsum and Packer Engineering visited our home on March 5th-11th, 2009 and opened every wall. They determined our home didn’t contain any Chinese Drywall. National Gypsum acknowledged there was a serious problem in our home, but denied any issues with the drywall. Our test from MIT and Rimkus Consulting Group, the testing company that our builder’s insurance company hired, both confirmed that our drywall is off gassing. Rimkus tested our well water & told us our water is normal. We also have other scientists that also agree that our drywall is off gassing. Over the past four years our family has experienced various health problems including nose bleeds, respiratory issues, irritated eyes, dizziness, shortness of breath, severe headaches and fainting.

In conclusion, this ordeal has completely consumed our lives and we are worried about health concerns from our tainted drywall. With that said we are deeply committed to finding the truth. Our drywall came from Apollo Beach, FL. that is next to Teco Energy. There are no standards in making drywall. How was the consumer to know that the drywall was not pure mined gypsum anymore? We are digging deeper into what actually went wrong with our drywall. Our concern is that the drywall industry is totally unregulated. When we buy drywall we don’t know if it was made from byproducts from coal scrubbers or has had some recycled Chinese drywall scrap added to the mix. We had this drywall installed in our homes with no information as its contents nor will the manufactures provide this information. Now that our homes are contaminated we need to know and we have had to file a lawsuit to find out if we have hazardous material in our homes. This is not right! Our attorneys Robert Gary and Greg Weiss are investigating almost a hundred homes with contamination problems from a single drywall plants that makes it’s drywall from flue gas desulfurization. None of these people and perhaps thousands more have any way to find out the source of the raw material in their drywall. If flyash is designated as a hazardous material we as homeowners would have the right to know what we are putting in our homes and what we are exposing our children too. This should be our right these are our homes and they are unlivable and we have to fight in court to get the most basic information if our drywall was made with hazardous materials. That is just plain wrong!  Regardless, attention and further detailed investigations need to occur in order to uncover the truth and restore not only our home, but those of the thousands of families that are being affected by this tragedy. I hope that my statement will serve as a catalyst to examine the health and safety issues that may involve American as well as the Chinese drywall.
Please watch our Youtube videos. Search: Brincku House & A Cry for Help - Brincku

Caveat emptor. nuff said?

and to think homeland security let this stuff into our country, all the more reason the federal government should be held accountable to assist to remediate these homes.

Sharon Walthew

Oct. 26, 2010, 9:22 a.m.

Caveat emptor? Pete Anderson, you are clueless. The homeowner hires a reputable contractor; the contractor hires a sub; the sub buys the drywall that he can get his hands on because there is a shortage. Three years later, the homeowners wonder why their house is falling apart.

When you add up all the homes with these problems and the cost of fixing all of them, to a country like China it’s just a drop in the bucket. Imagine the goodwill they would engender by just paying the money to fix the problem caused by their product. Why they don’t do the honorable thing is beyond comprehension.

Sharon Walthew, you are correct if your builder was small. However, in my case WCI bought the drywall directly and supplied their subs. In fact they bought a boat load and wholesaled some of it. They were aware of the problem, remediated houses that they had not yey sold, and hid the information from affected homeowners. They should be held accountable in some way. However, they filed bankruptcy to protect themselves from any action. They are back building houses with not a care.

People want big, cheap houses.  If getting the materials from an overseas supplier reduces the cost, no one cares - until there is a problem.  Then, whoa Nelly!  A great uproar is heard.  Did people buying these houses not notice the smell?  Sulfur compounds are fairly stinky.

Have you noticed all of the seafood in Wally world? it comes from China out of polutted waters Dont eat it I bet it hasnt passed one “real” inspection!  We need to start educating the American consumers on what all this crap from China is all about and boycott all of it then maybe this crap would stop!

When I said Caveat Emptor I was not criticizing the homeowner. I was simply saying that in these times of imported goods (and the greed of the importers) we all would do well to be a little more aware of what we purchase. As we become more educated we make better decisions. Oh, yeah, Sharon, I think you are the clueless one. I was in the construction business for years. I always used top quality materials and never had anything but very minor complaints. Never over quailty, though.

Should I say there is a realitivly easy answer? It would work, if we could just get our fine government to pass and enforce it.
A short law stating-any one, any company-executives-the highest executives-buying and importing ANY item, material, from outside the US, shall be liable for it’s safety. Period. Penalty for failure-the buyer(iniating purchase from outside US) will go to jail(no exceptions!), and pay fines of no less than 200% of total transactions(cost + profit). Executive pay, and anything, everything, owned by them may be recaptured by the government to repay those affected. Lawyer fees limited to 10%.

another american drywall victim

Oct. 27, 2010, 1:13 p.m.

Pete Anderson, our home was built with american made drywall. It has the same problems as the chinese product (corroded blackened copper wiring and pipes, sulphur smell and health issues because of it), Buyer Beware???? This material is considered top quality material. You are completely off the mark. Even people with homes made with chinese drywall did not choose their own building products. No one is deserving of an unsafe home.

pete anderson

Oct. 27, 2010, 6:42 p.m.

another american drywall victim;
I couldn’t agree more. I am not, I REPEAT NOT trying to cast aspersions on the american home buyer. We are at the mercy of all of the fat cats and even the thin cats trying to make a buck and screw you (the buyer). So, I ask, what can be done? I don’t really know, but I encourage people to very carefully examine any home purchase with someone who you trust who can identify poor quality materials. When poor quality is discovered don’t just walk away, call the BBB, the construction union, your alderman, anyone who can exert pressure on these theives to straighten up and fly right! Please believe me, I am NOT on the side of the thieves!!!

pete anderson

Oct. 27, 2010, 6:52 p.m.

jim johnson, you have the right idea. The problem is that there is so much under the table money going on that we are mostly helpless in the face of the moneybags. My solution? Again, when buying a home have someone you trust check it out. Anyone using poor quality or even dangerous materials should go to prison. Not jail. PRISON. Will that happen? Probably not. Read; bribery. corruption. fraud. greed.
Need proof? Try to contact your Representative or Senator about these and other issues you care about. Go ahead and try. See what you get.

Scott "Spiderman" Mulholland

Oct. 28, 2010, 12:08 a.m.

This is very disturbing with the amount of products we are allowing into our country. China from what I have been told is responsible for 80% of all recalled products in the U S. We need to protect the American people from foreign shipments of goods that can create large scale environmental disasters such as Chinese drywall. I know that domestic products are now being brought into question although I have not seen any documented proof at this point despite asking for drywall for testing. I am concerned this is only the tip of the iceberg and recycling Chinese drywall back into domestic brands just does not make any sense. We need the Government to step in and activate funds to help these people caught in this crisis. These homeowners are unsuspecting victims and have to make whole. See the Building Envelope Science Institutes work on this subject at http://www.besinstitute.org

You must understand that only the very severe cases smell like rotten eggs. My house, which has between 30 & 50 % Chinese drywall, periodically gives a burnt match smell. It has also been proven that your ofactory senses become numb to the smell. I still have relpaced my computer, my 4yr old refregerator and am looking st replacing my A/C for the second time in 4 yrs. Some builders likr Lanar and Beazer, have recognized the issue and stepped up and remediated houses. They as builders were vicimized just as we home buyers were. The took care of their customers and are carrying the fight. Other builders like WCI have totally ignored the problem and treat thier victimized customers like they have the plague. I suggest that anyone buying a newly built house ask the builder how they are dealing with any homes that they built with Chinese drywall. Their answer will tell you how they will treat you after the sale. WCI has a horrible service after sale reputation even discounting the CDW.

Contacting Govmt officials has, to date, done no good.

Do not mess with China. We are in no position to make them mad at us.  Just take the cheep stuff they make and be glad the sell it to us

I just read the remarks from J Meek and I certainly hope he/she is being sarcastic about the lack of help the thousands of victims are getting from our government.  They allow China to ship substandard products into this country and then turn their backs on the people who are having health issues, are afraid for their children; move out of these toxic homes; need to pay rent and supposedly have enough left to pay their mortgage; get harrassed by the mortgage companies that our government bailed out; lose their insurance coverage; and possibly their homes.  Sure, why should anyone mess with China!

As long as the citizens of this fine country continue to “f"ing buy anything that lights up, makes noise, or is a pretty color, we will get what we deserve. Too bad that the rest of us who are conscientious in our consumption of what we only really need, will suffer the fallout of so many zombie consumers.

Scott "Spiderman" Mulholland

Oct. 30, 2010, 3:33 p.m.

j.Meek, there should be an accountability for those countries that ship in defective products that hurt the the American public and our children. If you’re baby was on a nebulizer; one of your children was spitting up blood or your home lost 70% of its value, I seriously doubt you would have made the comment above. This is a serious issue, maybe not to you but to those who have been caught up into this nightmare.
People who are trying to do something about this.  http://www.besinstitute.org

Spiderman ... Super-Hero ...

I agree ... thousands of Consumers and their families, including children have been affected by tainted corrosive drywall ...

What are YOU doing about it ???

Readers do not know all the facts and truth about your involvement, abatement / treatment protocols, seminars, and training classes ...

Please explain and disclose how many satisfied customers and how many successful cost effective treatment applications you, your BESI Non-Profit, or Members have completed ... to-date ???

Providing your so called expert guidance and leadership has established no cost effective, confirmed and validated abatement and treatment systems.

Your attempts to sound sincerely interested, involved, and show Consumer compassion while you profit from seminars, and training classes, promoted and sold through your Company and your so called ... Non-Profit ... BESI ... while you have failed to complete, establish, an provide cost effective means and methods, to abate and treat structures ... seriously calls attention and transparency ... to your real agenda ...

Profiting from the CDW issue ???

I agree, all companies need to be profitable to survive, but what does your system really offer, to cost effectively help the Consumer ???

Please stop telling the public and Consumers how concerned you are and do something, cost effective to resolve the issue, other than hiding in the shadows and making excuses for your lack of accomplishments ...

JMeek might not be right or informed of the issues, but YOU have no room to talk or criticize ...

I’m sorry to readers, that do not understand my posting or reasons, but I’m just tired of the agenda promoting, lack of integrity and honesty, from this ... so call ... self named ... Super-Hero ???

Michael S. Foreman
Foreman and Associates
Forensic Construction Consultants
Consumer Advocates

http://www.ForemanandAssociates.com

The US need to stop trading with China until we have a better system to weed-out contaminated materials. We consumers should demand accountability from the US producers of contaminated drywall (or any other contaminated product) by boycotting their products. The greed that is enveloping our Country is the “death” of us/US at this time.

Mr. Foreman,

  Just so we are clear, I am not for or against you or “Spiderman” Mulholland.  As a victim of this toxic drywall nightmare, I pose this as a sincere question:

Would you please share with all of us the scientific data Jay Howell (of the CPSC) and Congressman Buchanan (of the Congressional Drywall Caucus) requested regarding the success rate of your “Abisso Cleanse” treatment?

Michael S. Foreman

Nov. 2, 2010, 2:49 p.m.

M. Sitaras,

Thanks for your interest and follow-up.

Just so we are clear ... sides do not have to taken.

Factual, Truthful, Detailed, CDW Information and Actual Cost, concerning abatement, treatment, testing, and re-construction is what my firm offers and provides.

I have talked with Mr. Howell (CPSC) and shared our information.

I have not heard from Mr. Buchanan’s office, at this time, but would be happy to discuss our process, protocol, treatment, post treatment guidelines, and actual field information, related to our projects.

We can proudly state, our success rate ... 100% ... confirmed and validated by Post Treatment Testing,
on every project.

How can we help you ???

Michael S. Foreman
http://www.ForemanandAssociates.com
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Scott "Spiderman" Mulholland

Nov. 2, 2010, 9:12 p.m.

Mr. Foreman,

Everything we are doing is posted in plan view on http://www.besinstitute.org  for all to observe.  As far as commenting on your hate mail or personal attacks against me, simply not worth it. 

As far as Chinese Drywall, its a shame that more has not been done for those caught up in this crisis. Sad…

Only buy board made in Gypsum, CO.

Scott "Spiderman" Mulholland

Nov. 4, 2010, 5:16 p.m.

FACTS:
BESI only allows State Certified General or Building Contractors who are in good standing with thier state to take the extensive two day training and certification course that goes through the top 5 protocols including Judge Fallon and the CPSC guidelines. NO independent organization has spent more time and money researching and investigating inspection and remediation protocols than BESI and its members (130 companies and individuals).  There is even a photo gallery documenting their work with the development of several systems which included help from the University of Florida, ARS, USBCI and many other companies. Also, look at the caliber of the last expert panel board that was just hosted by BESI (front page web site).  ( Also, see http://www.besinstitute.org  - then click drywall and click on the yellow button that says photo gallery to see the work that BESI members are doing to help those with Chinese Drywall).  To find a certified drywall contractor, inspector or consultant, go to BESI web site and click on the   U S map for a list of trained certified individuals who hold license in there state.  Also see BESI code of conduct and ethical requirements for all certified members which is enforced by the institute. The institutes directors and members are focused on developing educational training and solutions to the problems. Thats its focus and main mission.

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Tainted Drywall

Tainted Drywall: How Companies Kept Silent While Homeowners Suffered

Foul air from Chinese-made drywall has created a nightmare for thousands of homeowners.

The Story So Far

ProPublica and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune began examining in May 2010 what was—or wasn’t—being done to help people whose homes had been built with contaminated drywall. The problematic drywall, much of it imported from China, emitted foul odors and frequently caused mysterious failures of new appliances and electronics. Worse yet, some residents complained of serious respiratory problems, bloody noses, and migraines.
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